Monday, April 6, 2020

How the Coronavirus Came Between the Logan Whitehurst Doc and You

Posted By on Mon, Apr 6, 2020 at 11:03 AM


As the timetable for the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent stay-at-home response continue to lengthen into May and beyond, more and more events and planned creative projects are being shelved for a later date or being canceled outright.

The recently crowdfunded documentary Your Friend Logan: The 4-Track Mind of Logan Whitehurst, about late North Bay–musician Logan Whitehurst, is the latest endeavor to suffer from the sheltering orders. Director Conner Nyberg announced today on the project’s Kickstarter site that the production, planned to begin this summer, has been delayed at least a year due to the current pandemic.

As reported in the Bohemian in February, the documentary, helmed by the South Carolina–based Nyberg and North Bay–producer-and-performer Matlock Zumsteg, will include interviews with dozens of people who knew Whitehurst best and incorporate Whitehurst’s original animations and rare archive material to create an intimate and celebratory film.

Nyberg’s statement on the delay notes that several of the interviewees are high-risk for coronavirus and the disease COVID-19, and that one interviewee was recently quarantined. The 20-year-old Nyberg also begins film school fall semester, meaning the earliest he and Zumsteg now predict that filming can begin is summer of 2021.

That said, the production crew remains hard at work prepping the film’s production, including combing through archival footage from Whitehurst’s life in music and art.

Read the full statement from Nyberg below.

Hi everyone. Some bad news today.

When the fundraiser ended, COVID-19 just began to spread in the States. At the time, Matlock (our producer) and I were cautiously optimistic, believing that once the initial panic had worn off, things would be able to carry on as usual.

Needless to say, that hasn't been the case, and it appears that things still have ways to go before it starts to get better again. Several of our interviewees are high-risk (one interviewee was recently quarantined), and if projections are true, we'll be expecting a second wind from this virus when school starts back up in the fall.

So we've decided to indefinitely postpone production.

Like everyone else, we're taking this all day by day, but if we had to give an ETA for when we'll be able to start back up production, our best estimate would be Summer 2021. This is keeping in mind that this virus probably will not totally blow over until the end of the year, and that I'll be starting my first year of university this fall.

That being said, work on the documentary is not over. Far from it - we're taking advantage of this situation to get even more done. This has given us even more preparation time, a chance to collect more resources, and more time to focus on getting rewards out to all of you.

Speaking of which, there are only a handful of people who haven't yet completed their reward surveys! Please fill those out as soon as you can, so that we can try and get the batch of Needlejuice rewards out at one time.

We apologize for such a large delay. This is as unusual of a situation as it gets, and we hope you understand. We also hope that all of you are safe and that you'll stay safe.

Thank you for all of your support so far, and we will continue to keep you guys updated on this awesome project.

Your friend,

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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

These Local Theaters Will Screen Films In Your Home

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2020 at 3:45 PM

  • George Lazarus/ via Smith Rafael Film Center

While movie theaters remain closed during the shelter-in-place ordeal, local film purveyors are taking to the web to screen movies for those who are hunkering down at home.

In Marin County, the Smith Rafael Film Center is closed, though the theater is thriving online with the Rafael@ Home series featuring several films available to rent and stream at home, including Brazilian genre-bending, award-winner Bacurau and breakout drama Saint Frances. Films coming to the rental series includes intimate documentary Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band and local filmmaker Nancy Kelly's acclaimed Thousand Pieces of Gold.

Downtown Larkspur's historic art deco Lark Theater is also closed in the wake of Marin County's sheltering order, and they've responded with their own Lark Streams service. The nonprofit venue is working with top film distributors to develop the online programming, which currently includes Academy Award-nominated Polish film Corpus Christi and the supernatural comedy Extra Ordinary coming soon.

In Sonoma County, the Alexander Valley Film Society’s Shelter in Place Series is gaining an audience with several offerings such as online filmmaker webinars, home screenings and a weekly Wednesday Film & Food series that encourages combining the at-home screening with local takeout. Upcoming online events include a Film Noir Q&A and Discussion with film critic and Barndiva owner Jil Hales on Sunday, April 5, at 2pm. AV Film Society is even hosting online educational classes for kids who are sheltering, with a film editing course happening right now.

In Napa County, the Cameo Cinema, closed for the time being, has been busy curating its own Virtual Cinema with several titles to rent, including some hard-to-find international films such as acclaimed Romanian crime comedy The Whistlers and  German historic thriller Balloon.

Click these links above to find out how to rent the movies from each theater/ film group. You'll be taken to their websites to purchase and watch the film, with a portion of ticket sales helping to support each group.
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Friday, March 20, 2020

Surviving the 'Shelter-in-Place' Weekend

Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2020 at 1:55 PM

Locally-filmed comedy "Wine Country" is streaming on Netflix.
  • Locally-filmed comedy "Wine Country" is streaming on Netflix.

Sonoma, Marin and Napa County are all under 'Shelter-in-Place' orders due to the Coronavirus pandemic, keeping most of us at home for the first weekend in Spring. Here's a couple ways to spend the next two days from the comfort of your couch.

Access the Library from Home
All branches of the Sonoma County Library and Marin County Library are closed and programming at Napa County libraries is suspended due to health concerns.

If you can’t go to the library, you can bring the library to you. A quick trip to, or will guide you to a collection of digital materials and online services that includes eBooks and audiobooks, digital magazines, streaming movies and TV, and online learning services that are all free with your library card.

Don’t have a library card yet? Apply for a card online and start using digital services immediately.

Streaming Movies Online
Now is not the best time to be out and about, though locals can see some of their favorite Sonoma and Napa County spots in several movies, some of which are available to watch online. For wine connoisseurs, two movies in particular are perfect to put on while pouring a glass of Cabernet.

On Netflix, the 2019 comedy Wine Country (pictured), starring "SNL" alums Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch and others, shows off Calistoga in style. On Amazon Prime, the 2008 feel-good true story of Napa Valley’s entry into the world of winemaking, Bottle Shock, features locations in both counties.

For fans of science fiction, action and horror, Marin is on the scene in two particularly great flicks. First, sign up for a free trial of horror movie streaming service Shudder to see John Carpenter’s The Fog, filmed entirely on location in Point Reyes and Inverness. Over on Amazon Prime, the surprisingly heartfelt 2018 Transformers spin-off Bumblebee rolls through locations such as the Marin Headlands.

If podcasts are still foreign to you, now is the perfect time to start listening to one of the millions of free online shows, and three North Bay podcasts demonstrate the breadth of content within the medium.

The Wine Country Women Podcast is an inspiring conversation show in which Michelle Mandro talks to ladies like winemaker Heidi Barrett and Charter Oak Winery proprietor Layla Fanucci.

Web series The Cult Show celebrates classic horror and sci-fi films with filmmaker guests and loads of fun at

Award-winning podcast Ear Hustle tells stories from inside San Quentin to reveal the nuanced life inside and the journey for those who must reintegrate to society once they are released.

Clean Your Room
There is much to learn about the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, but based on what is currently known, transmission occurs via respiratory droplets and coronavirus may remain on surfaces for hours or even days.

That means it’s time to not only wash your hands with soap, it’s time to start cleaning surfaces you may touch around the house. Don’t forget to use disinfectants on tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, remote controls, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks and anything that may come in contact with your hands.

For instructions on cleaning products and further preventative measures, visit
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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Virtual Events Spread During North Bay Shelter-in-Place

Posted By on Thu, Mar 19, 2020 at 11:56 AM


Public gatherings continue to be cancelled and postponed with the current Shelter-in-Place orders covering Sonoma, Marin and Napa County. In the face of ongoing social distancing, many venues, artists and organizations are starting to bring their events into your home with online gatherings.

The Alexander Valley Film Society is sheltering in place with movies, and welcomes the public to sit in on a special remote viewing party. First, AV Film Society encourages cinephiles to go to Amazon Prime and watch the 2015 dramedy "The Week," about a washed-up television host who spends seven days boozing and self-reflecting after his wife leaves him on the eve of their 10-year anniversary.

"The Week" was filmed at multiple locations in and throughout Sonoma County, including Cloverdale's historic Owl Cafe and Healdsburg's Passalacqua Winery. It also won the 2015 Sonoma International Film Festival Audience Award.

On Sunday, March 22, AV Film Society Executive Director Kathryn Hecht hosts an online Q&A with Rick Gomez, writer and star of "The Week,"  and Jenny Gomez, who produced the film. Watch the movie first and register for the online discussion here.

In Petaluma, the Rivertown Poets have long held a monthly "A-Muse-ing Mondays" poetry reading and open mic at Aqus Cafe. Now the poetry goes online with Rivertown's first ever Virtual Poetry Reading and Open Mic. Mark your calendars for Monday, March 23rd, at 6:15 pm. Those who wish to read their three-minute-or-less poem can do so over the stream, and others can sit back and enjoy from the comfort of their own home.

Live music venues were one of the first public spaces to close in the wake of coronavirus concerns, and it looks like live concerts won’t be coming back to the North Bay for a couple weeks. For music lovers who need to scratch that live experience itch, longtime Cotati institution Redwood Café, which live streams all of its concerts, is re-broadcasting "The Best of The Redwood Cafe Live" with special streaming events each evening. Visit the venue online to see the shows each night, or simply browse the video archive on Redwood Cafe's Facebook page.

The Museum of Sonoma County is currently closed to support the local efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. Yet, the museum boasts an online database of its permanent collection of historical objects and artwork that is searchable by subject and topic. There’s also a lot of YouTube videos on the museum’s website exploring recent exhibits like the “From Suffrage to #MeToo: Groundbreaking Women in Sonoma County.” Finally, the kids (and adults) will enjoy the museum’s “Color Me Sonoma” downloadable coloring book featuring iconic Sonoma County sites and fun local history.
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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Double Exposure

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2019 at 12:30 PM


There they are, waiting for you. Super-models and Instagram vixens splashing in the Caribbean with the famous swimming hogs of Big Major Cay. Maybe they should have called it the Circe Festival instead of the Fyre Festival. The swindled victims weren’t literally turned to swine. But they weren’t treated much better than pigs.

Most of the world knows what happened, and moreover has had a real good laugh at it. The dueling documentaries Fyre Fraud (Hulu) by Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason, and Chris Smith’s Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (Netflix) take slightly different stances on the dreadful fest.

Both tell of how Jersey go-getter Billy McFarland made his name by selling the Magnises credit card to millenials, with a $250 annual fee. There were certain club benefits, disputed by the two docs; Netflix's doc admires the Magnises lounge and club nights. The Hulu version snipes that the Magnises bennies were getting to rub shoulders with guys from Murray Hill, one of NYC’s most boring neighborhoods.

These Magnises (was it meant to be short for “Magnificent Penis”?) got McFarland got enough fame in the right places to fund the development of a band-booking ap called Fyre. It was to be promoted with an awesome music festival on a private Caribbean island in spring 2017. Rapper Ja Rule endorsed it to give it street cred. McFarland hired PR, which in turn used “Influencers”—professional inducers of online FOMO.

Everything went wrong. There was inadequate prep time, several changes of location, a surprise rainstorm and the especially bad idea to have the fest during a regatta weekend when there was no rental properties available. The elite arrived to find used disaster relief tents waiting for them, with windows that didn’t keep out the mosquitoes. They rushed back to the states, complaining into their iPhones every step of the way.

There’s more than a little overlap between these documentaries—both featuring the same viral video showing Ja Rule chased by the schoolboys from Lord of the Flies. The Netflix account, in which Vice media participated, has the most scandalous material: event planner Andy King tells of how McFarland begged him to fellate a certain Bahamian minister to get a planeload of Evian water released from customs’ duties.

Hulu’s Fyre Fraud has personal access to McFarland—in fact, the producers paid him to talk—when the grifter was on bail and secretly cooking yet more scams. Here we get childhood legends of McFarland’s hustling youth from his mom, in communications hilariously read out loud by text-to-speech software.

If Netflix’s Fyre:TGFTNH is more fair, it’s less fun. The title says it all—it doesn’t question the necessity of the fest. The Fyre Festival didn’t work, but wouldn’t it have been insanely cool if it had? Marc Weinstein, one of McFarland’s assistants who is still on hook for some of the unpaid wages, still argues “there was definitely a chance to pull it all together.” Thus Netflix’s Fyre:TGFTNH may be a stepping stone to the inevitable exculpatory whitewashing feature film with Jonah Hill or Leonardo Dicaprio playing McFarland. It’s inevitable, an on-screen pity party for a showman who dreamed too big.

By contrast, Hulu’s Fyre Fraud suggests a larger picture, in it’s account of how McFarland’s scams were hot air sucked up and made forceful by the Venturi effect of the internet envy-machine. One prefer Fyre Fraud’s sense in exploring the sleaziness of McFarland’s dream, with supermodels jiggling in slow-mo, posing and grinning—images that are, to borrow critic David Thomson’s phrase, “an advertisement for advertisement.”

It’s not going out into the weeds to suggest that this mirage called the Fyre Festival mirrored the way America fell for a charismatic figure, who cared less for truth than what his guts tell him. Was the Fyre Festival a merry distraction from the Trumpster Fyre, or do they parallel each other?

Fyre Fraud
convincingly identifies the fraud-fest as just one more chimera of modern times, a 24 hour game of ‘let’s pretend,’ in which one cannot tell if someone is a delusional liar or the smartest person in the room.
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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Did North Korea Attack the Rialto Cinema's Website?

Posted By on Tue, Dec 23, 2014 at 2:39 PM


Update: The Rialto will be showing The Interview at 9:40pm starting Christmas.

No, they didn't but such are the times we live in.

I just read that a few theaters are going to screen "The Interview," pudgy faced North Korean dictators be damned. I was pleased to see that Berkeley's Elmwood Theater is one of the brave theaters to show the movie. The movie house is the sister of Sebastopol's Rialto Cinema. I wondered if they would show it in Sebastopol too but when I went to their website it was down. And when I checked the Elmwood site it was down too. Did North Korean hackers do it?

No, said Melissa Hatheway, the Rialto's director of marketing and community relations. Just a buggy server or something. Or maybe the the rush to buy tickets crashed the site.

Hatheway said it was easy to slot the movie in Berkeley because they had a one-off movie they could bump but no such luck in Sebastopol. The movie list was set and couldn't be rejiggered, she said.

Both sites are back online and everything seems cool for now. But I for one will remain vigilant against any moves from Pyongyang.

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Gleason Ranch: Risking Everything

Posted By on Mon, Nov 4, 2013 at 3:15 PM

A familiar sight at farmers markets around the North Bay, Gleason Farms offers pasture-raised poultry and other meats that taste better than anything found in a grocery store. But the Sonoma County farm, like many other family farms these days, is facing some tough times. Money problems turn into family squabbles, and the death of two parents in six months increases the stress. Sounds like a dynamite movie plot, and it is—sort of.

Morgan Schmidt-Feng is directing a documentary about the 150-year-old, 5th generation farm, using footage gathered over four years, showing the rise, fall and rebirth of this farm and this family. It’s called “Risking Everything,” and the trailer sure is compelling. It’s a microcosm of what’s happening to farms across the country, in a way, and the local aspect makes it that much more compelling for the North Bay audience.

By the way, here’s an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to finish the movie.

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Friday, May 3, 2013

'20 Feet From Stardom' Augments BottleRock

Posted By on Fri, May 3, 2013 at 5:43 PM

With BottleRock just about ready to boom, Napa’s other wide-eyed fest, the Napa Valley Film Festival, is getting in on the action early with some music-centric sneak peak screenings. Monday, May 6, taps the organization’s alliance with BottleRock for a fundraiser/screening and Q&A of the documentary Sound City, Dave Grohl’s (of Nirvana and Foo Fighters fame, who will be in attendance) directorial debut. Tuesday, Sundance favorite Twenty Feet from Stardom will get its Napa debut at the building formerly known as COPIA. Music is also on the mind in this flick, which brings the stars-behind-the-stars to the forefront. Rock legends like Sting, The Boss and Mick Jagger wax about how below-the-radar backup singers like Darlene Love, Lisa Fischer and Judith Hill (now forging her own tracks on Season 4 of The Voice) helped define the sounds of the time. Director Morgan Neville will be on hand for Q&As after both screenings, and Fischer, making a pit stop off her tour with the Rolling Stones, will perform live following the 5:30PM screening. Looks like Napa is most definitely ready to rock. The 5:30pm screening is $20 and includes a wine tasting; 8:30pm screening is $10. 500 First Street, Napa,

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Zach Braff Saves the Rio Theater in Monte Rio

Says He "Can't Wait to See a Movie There"

Posted By on Wed, May 1, 2013 at 10:18 PM


You might think Zach Braff is a destitute hobo, the way he was begging for money on the internet last week. But no! Zach Braff is in fact a very famous and wealthy actor, screenwriter, producer and director, and Zach Braff is also the donor who just pitched in enough money to save the Rio Theater in Monte Rio.


That's right: the star of Scrubs and Garden State put the Rio's fundraising efforts over their $60,000 goal just today—meaning that the cutest little Quonset hut theater in Sonoma County will be able to buy a digital projector, thereby appeasing the big-movie-studio ogres and staying open to bring life and love and entertainment to the deep reaches of West County.

On Facebook, Braff testified about the Rio Theater that he "Can't wait to see a movie there!"


Congratulations to the Rio Theater, which opened in 1950 and has become a favorite of ours here at the Bohemian. The quaint one-screen is a true small-town gem, refreshingly removed from the moviegoing experience at huge megaplexes. With its hand-picked music, personalized slides, and fabric from Christo's fence hanging from the ceiling, it's a beloved staple of the West County community. (For the full story of the Rio Theater, see Stephen Gross' history of the place, here.)

May the Rio last another 63 years or more—and you can bet that sometime soon, they'll be showing Braff's upcoming film, Wish I Was Here.

  • Graph: John DeSalvio
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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Hobbit: An Unexpect(ly terrible) Journey

Posted By on Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Just say no to the one ring
  • Just say no to the one ring
The night began ominously. We were finally seeing the Hobbit in its last-chance big screen showing, at the cheap-o discount theater in Santa Rosa. Just $4.50, what a bargain! “Two for Lord of the Rings,” I say, promptly corrected by the young woman printing the tickets.
“You mean the Hobbit, right?”
“Yeah, that’s it. I was close.”
She replies with an eyebrow raise without making eye contact, “It doesn’t even compare.”
“Oh, like it’s better?”
“No, worse,” she says with a smile.
“Yeah.” She looks up. “It’s terrible. Enjoy your movie.” With that, she handed us the tickets and we momentarily considered seeing what else was playing before heading into our theater. We should have considered it more seriously.

I know this is now old news, but the movie really was terrible. I like the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I like fantasy fiction. This movie took the shortest book of the series, chopped it into three movies, and added too many special effects to keep track of. It was too much for the editors, apparently, because there were unfinished portions in battle scenes. Repeated motions of computer-generated creatures were obvious and at times a sword would appear to go directly through an enemy with no reaction, like someone forgot to animate that part.

To boot, the movie was almost three hours long and there were several unnecessary musical numbers. Musical numbers! In a Tolkein film! Dwarves were cleaning up a hobbit’s house by tossing around the plates and singing. What is this, Sword in the Stone? And the physics of the battle scenes were too outrageous to ignore. A 50-pound log used as a shield repeatedly stops a giant, sharp sword swung by a giant beast? It was annoyingly impossible.

So the movie sucked, and so did one of the people in our row, we suspect. After discussing the possible sexual behavior that could be accomplished in the theater, a couple two seats over from us pulled the ol’ jacket-over-the-lap routine. I’m no prude, but this wasn’t in the back row or anything. It was loud and the film’s volume was too quiet, so everyone could hear the “coming attractions” playing smack dab in the middle of the theater. It was so quiet that when the daring duo was finished I could hear the guy next to me biting his nails—or, nubs of nails, rather—loudly and repeatedly starting and stopping, making it impossible to tune out. The guy in front of us dropped a large bottle—it sounded like a wine bottle—several times. Dude, put it in a padded bag or just leave it on the ground.

We finished the movie, astonished at our accomplishment. Both of us, it turns out, had wanted secretly for the other to lean in and whisper, “Let’s go get fro-yo.” But whether pride or just bad timing, neither caught on. By the time the marathon of unnecessary soliloquies was over, fro-yo was closed and we were annoyed. Moral of the story? Listen to your ticket booth attendant. She knows her stuff.

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